People keep asking, how it can be possible that at the age of 26 I have already traveled to so many destinations around the world, even without having a full-time job yet. Don’t get me wrong: I do work, just not 9 – 5 in an office.
To make you understand, how “easy” it can be to save up the money, I am sharing my secrets on some simple tricks to travel cheap. I must first and foremost say that this is my method and it will probably not be suitable for everybody out there, we are all different but I just hope that this will open people’s eyes to the fact that saving up for travelling is not as difficult as it may seem.
And no – I did not win the lottery.
How to save up money before travelling
- Be flexible.
Travelling in the off-season is way cheaper. Sure, if you got a full time job, it might be difficult, but there is always a way. Or if you have to travel during holidays take flights on like the 24th or 31st of December and tickets will be half the price.
Flight tickets are also way cheaper, if you do not have fixed dates. Read here about “How to find cheap flights”.
- Be organised.
Get enough information about the country you want to visit and how much it will cost you. Iceland is surely more expensive than Vietnam. Maldives will probably not be the best for a cheap backpacker tour, but Costa Rica will. Just adapt the country to your budget.
- Become a member.
Sign up for loyalty programs such as booking.com, agoda.com or any other websites because at a certain point after some bookings you will get discount rates. I got the “genius status” on booking.com and that already saved me heaps of money.
- Be informed.
Check in advance if you need travel insurance, how much luggage you are allowed to take, if you need a visa and what clothes to bring. Its costs lots of money to get organised while you are already on the road. Also check before arriving at the airport with your hostel how much a taxi should cost, so you do not get ripped off on your first act of your adventure.
- Be focused.
Okay, you made the decision to travel. Then start saving. Be focused on what you really want. I never had an iPhone for 700€ or a laptop for 1500€. I do not go party and spend 50€ a night. I do not have any tattoos (God knows how much they cost). Sure they last for a lifetime but so does the memory of a trip to Jordan. Do not buy crappy stuff you do not need. Too many of my friends got clothes at home with the tag on. That is not necessary. Do I really need to go to the hairdresser every three weeks? (Girls will understand how much that costs) I rather let the sun do its job while lying on the beach. There are so many ways of not spending money on things you actually do not need. You will be surprised.
- How to save money while travelling
If you travel once a year for one week you surely do not want to count every coin you spend. But the longer you travel or the more trips you want to take the more you have to stop saying “I am on holidays, I can spend money now.”
Well sure, you can think like that, but you will probably not travel for a long time.
- Sleep cheap.
The cheaper, the longer, the better – but the less comfortable. I stayed in a dorm with 20 smelly people, shared rooms with cockroaches and never shower without flipflops. Of course, that is not very fancy, but it will help you save up money for other things. But it does not always have to be that bad. If you travel with a buddy you can also get some really cheap and decent double rooms.
Or, if possible, stay with friends. I traveled whole of Australia & South America crashing on friend’s couches. That saves up lots of money. If you do not have friends abroad, try to check couchsurfing or some portals where you can rent out private apartments.
Secret tip: do not book on the portal but try to find out their Facebook or email address and book privately – means no service charge.
Or: work for your bed. Volunteer in some hostels or try workaway.info
- Move around cheap.
The more you change your location, the more it will cost. Stay as long as possible and if it comes to a change, go with cheap airlines (but watch out for luggage costs). Inform yourself about how much a taxi should cost and resist, I mean really, resist on putting on the taxi meter, even if that means 12 taxis will not take you anywhere.
- Eat well, but cheap.
Street-food can be amazing, and amazingly cheap. Find out about night markets and eat there. Sometimes you get lucky to have breakfast included – eat until you barely can walk back to your room again. Pack snacks or lunchboxes. Cook in the hostel kitchen and buy beer in the liquor store and sit at the beach instead of going out to expensive bars.
- Be cheap.
You can travel in 5 star hotels – but probably not for 5 months. So start dealing with just looking at luxury from the distance. Or find options and be creative. I always check if some fancy hotels have day passes or an open bar. So I just go there for one drink at night or stay at their pool for a day. In some countries beaches are always public. So find out where the Fourseasons is and lie down at their beach.
Do not find excuses for buying crap. Sure, if it will make you happy for the rest of your life, just buy it, but if it is another thing lying around you will never look at again, resist of buying it.
Set priorities. Do I want to sleep better but eat cheaper? Do I want to shop and therefore save money while sleeping in dorms? Just find your way of not throwing money away. Always think first – do I really need this? And surprisingly – you will not need it.
All those tips work perfectly fine for me, but that does not mean, they will also do for you. Just try to get some inspiration or new thoughts about how to travel without spending your monthly wage. There are cheaper options and the more you travel the more experience you get on how to be creative saving money and still getting the best out of it.
Story by Johanna from www.snowypalmtrees.com
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